tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC June 6, 2011 12:00am-12:30am PDT
now, that's more like it. [ female announcer ] complimentary drinks, free breakfast, more room. embassy suites hotels. [captioning made possible by nbc universal] >> ask not what your country can do for you. >> tear down this wall. >> the time for change has come. >> does hope spring eternal? how about four more years? history shows upbeats downbeat l it work again? will president trupp anger his enemies. will 2012 be array for hope or enough of this audacity. 'tis the season. how much change have we seen in the president himself. is the attacks on his birth, his faith, his wife left their mark or does barack obama have the stuff that toughens with a tag?
finally no comment. republicans won last november by skipping the big networks and newspapers, what they call the mainstream media. can they do it again and big 250eu78 in the coming presidential race? i'm chris matthews. welcome to the show. with us today, "the washington post's" bob woodward. politics daily alex wagner. "the new york times" helene cooper and new york magazine's john heilemann. first up, barack obama won the white house as the insurgent. now he's the incumbent. he ran on the audacity of hope. where there was hope, there are now points on the scoreboard. audacity's been replaced by what, wisdom? "60 minutes" correspondent steve crop asked the president about the change. >> you ran as somebody who was going to come to washington and change it and in the end, as some of your predecessors, they've ended up changing you. >> i think it's fair to say it hasn't changed me in terms of my ideals, you know when you're campaigning. i think you're liberated to say things without thinking about ok, how am i going to actually
practically implement this. >> do you think you were naive? >> no, i don't think i was naive. i just think these things are hard to do. chris: bob, you wrote a lot of inside books on our recent president, get to know him. what is the before and after with this guy? how did he change when he ran and now, how you covered him? >> we're going to spend the next two years decoding obama and there are going to be all kinds of views on this. mine is from looking at it up close that you have got to consider the time he's president and it's this time where we live in a very dangerous world, the economy and politics of the country are fragile and so what are people looking for? they're looking for the stewardship role of the president, somebody who is going to be calm and do the sensible thing, not the radical departure, no invade countries or start wars or do something that's off the charts. and so in a sense the times fit
the man. chris: is he more careful now than he was coming in? is he more prudent if you will? >> the president -- i know bush at the end of his presidency was when he left, people were saying, well, what's he doing? he's writing his memoirs and recovering from the presidency. chris: you wrote a heck of a book, "game change." you bore into this guy three, four years ago. every day you figured him out. how has he changed? >> first of all, temperament is very much the same. never too high. never too low. second thing that's true with all of the presidency, you can see the gray hair. the office is clearly weighing on him. chris: what is it that does weigh? >> i think -- chris: there's no war -- two wars. >> two big wars. going to funerals at dover. that had a huge effect on him. the thing that changed the most is after the midterms he realized he had to change some of the ways he operated. he been a guy throughout this
career who had a very small circle of advisers. three, four people running the white house. three, four people running the white house. he neededsñ)- >> i don't know about changes in him as a candidate but there are two barack obamas. he wants the entire world to look at him as somebody who says change can happen. and thin there's obama the pragmatic american president. that's the barack obama who's looking after america's national security, interest, economic interest. have you the soaring rhetoric and the barack obama who's standing there in front of a stadium full of people saying, you know, or saying, for instance, protesters in the middle east, you can get this done. then you have the barack obama who has got to think about oil prices --
chris: israel. >> and all of that. and they are two different things but you have to learn how to balance both. chris: he has made since the election, as helene pointed out. a couple changes. he did go on to tax cuts to the rich. he did say to the governors this spring or late winter, he said you know gorks ahead. if you don't like the individual man who covers part of this thing in the health care bill, come up with something better. he's opening the door from his change. >> absolutely. if you remember his interview with jon stewart from last year, hey, when we said we promised the american people change you can believe it. it wasn't change you can believe in, in 18 months. it's change you can believe in and we have to work for it. he's a prague ma fist. chris: has he done enough for his aggressive bay that he can now cruise down the channel? >> probably just enough. again, i go back to this idea, and helene is right, the management role of the presidency has overwhelmed the rhetorical. and the visionary.
because the management problems each day are just intelligence reports coming in. some cabinet officer is unhappy. some personnel change needs to be made and so forth. and it can be debilitating if you don't find a way to delegate and get on cruising speed through it. you can't sit there and say oh, my god, i have to get a new secretary of defense and wreck yourself and the whole administration figuring out who to do -- you just need to decide and move on. chris: john, have you been a solo effort. is he going to make a team effort and less talking about obama all the time? >> i reported this cover story a few weeks ago where a very high-ranking democrat close to obama said to me, he at the end of last year talked to many members of the cabinet. many in two years have never had a phone call from the president. you can joke around the white house whether barry bonds knew the name -- barack obama
laughed. he probably knew their names. chris: why not? >> because of the thing you just mentioned, obama centrism of that team. it was all about him. there was an element of cult personality about him. they made a very conscience effort, they made a conscience recognition they needed to use the cabinet better, obama needed to employ those people and bill daley have driving it hard in the white house. chris: you see this in the dale to day covering? >> it's so different. the first day in the white house, i remember having a conversation with somebody about why was it we're only seeing obama, maybe at the time rahm and ax. you can count on one hand people who would go on tv shows and talk from the administration. i said what about, named a few cabinet secretaries, why aren't they out there? and this guy looked at me and said, they're not ready for primetime yet. chris: oh, combosh. >> you don't see that anymore. chris: 2012. when he comes out and runs again, how does he sell the fact i need four more years, you need
four more years of me? is he going to say, there are things i haven't done i'm going to do or will that scare the center and the right? >> i think he's got to say the things i haven't done. there's no way he can win without that. i think that's absolutely -- chris: more progressive action? more things like health care? >> i think he's going to point to landmark legislation. i think the idea of hope and change will morph out. but he will point to things like immigration reform or clean energy reform. big-ticket issues that are going to play well with the ee trek lit. chris: you were chuckling. you don't think he should do more progressive promises? >> the american economy is a ticking time bomb. let's face it. you have this deficit commission of senator simpson and earn steen bowles. you look into details. this is not partisan. this is raw economics in numbers. we're entering the danger zone. he will have to manage that. if that goes off the rails
where, you know the republican -- chris: management again? >> it's management. look, it's survival politics. as talls is. >> i will tell what you else he will do, he will do this because it's good politics and he actually believes it's true. he's going to compaign as the last bulwark, the only bulwark in extremist in the republican party. the only way to protect my accomplishments in the first four years, the only way to protect it is keep the white house out of the hands of these people and will he have things to point out over the next two years. he will point at those things. that will be the politics -- chris: you talk about, if the republicans are red dogging the football, go right after the quarterback. him being the bad guy. get rid of him. can he then come out and say, i can inspire this country even if i'm under attack? >> he's got a natural avenue there, but he can't run saying i'm not going to be a crazy republican. you have to have a positive message and people who run for
the presidency need to kind of say, look, i'm going to use the extraordinary power of this office to do a, b and c. chris: if they attack him, does that make it easier? >> i think the idea obama is a positive, he's an optimistic guy. his win the future is part and parcel of that and he fundamentally wants the american people to believe and feel like they are part of this lurching, beautiful democracy that we are all moving forward. that's very much how we're going to move forward in the next four years. chris: do they feel in the white house they have a grip on these things? >> they do. the feeling is very positive at the white house. chris: despite all of the wrong direction numbers for the economy and country in general? >> absolutely. you're hearing in a couple of speeches he did earlier this year, these were speeches the democratic partisan fund-raisers, he did not go on the attack. he did not do sort of the usual campaign stop. this is the hard core of his campaign. chris: are they happy with the
outlook for the candidates? are they happy they can beat the field they're looking at? >> two things. the one thing is they're extraordinarily concerned about the economy and spike in oil prices that can derail the recovery and mean it's impossible for him to win. and at the same time they look at the republican field and say, you've got to be kidding. our guy, he has more talent in his little finger than any of these republicans and they have to put someone on the field eventually. our guy will run them straight over. that's what they think. chris: that's what i think. there's a disconnect here. from the opportunity of the party and what's in the field. before we break, president obama's 2008 campaign captured the imagination of many and, in fact, the imagination of many people in the press corps. here's how "saturday night live" handled it dwurg the obama versus clinton primary fight. >> why everyone in the news media, the three of us are totally in the tank for senator obama. >> i travel around this country, i'm hearing the same sentiments from every journalist i meet.
for too long in this country, the person's been hearing the same old refrain. just give us the news, not your personal opinion. and they're tired of it. they're tired of being told you journalists have to stay neutral. you can't open thrake sides in the political campaign. and they're saying, yes, we can. [laughter] yes, we can take sides. yes, we can. [laughter] >> bull's-eye. [laughter] nothing but net. chris: when we come back, we'll talk about the real-life flip side. republicans do not trust what they call the mainstream media. and very few candidates don't talk to the networks or the big newspapers. can you win the white house like that? plus, from these top reporters.
chris: welcome back. polls show only one-third of republicans trust what some right of center politicians call the mainstream media. there was a lot of distrust inside the mccain/palin campaign, so much so that mccain did few print interviews. of course, palin avoided interviews, especially after the katie couric jousting. after the fall, they were frankly told to avoid interviews, especially close to the election. where did we get this phrase, derogatory phrase now, mainstream immediatia. who cooked it up? >> it's not just from the right but from the left. two things simultaneously, the right of the blog os fear and opinionating and reporting that takes place who are part of that movement, look at the paragons -- chris: generational thing, too. >> it's a little bit generational but you also have
what they have in their quiver is this notion that at the same time as blogging rose and became important, you had a huge failure as they saw it of the establishment press, on the subject of the iraq war. so they were able to point at things like "the new york times," i'm afraid, "the washington post." all of the tv networks. chris: they're saying it wasn't critical, incisive journalism -- >> right, lap dogs to the establishment and that became a proof point for a different kind of much more ideologically driven. chris: let's talk about the next election. "the new york times" with "the washington post" and "the wall street journal" has been a place where a candidate wants to make how to go and get an interview. how to get something where this person seriously has to say. don't endorse but listen to this person. will they be able to avoid you and people like you and say we're not going to go to the gatekeepers anymore? we're just going to sell it on television? >> i think a lot of candidates will absolutely avoid the mainstream media. chris: mitt romney. >> there are times in the "the
washington post," john mccain didn't talk to the "the new york times" at all. at the end of the day, "the new york times" and "the washington post" and mainstream media are still going to be doing the stories that will drive the agenda. >> look, we're all being tested now. i think the survival of the so-called mainstream media has to do with quality and if you assemble a bunch of questions and go to a candidate and say, look, i'm serious. i really want to ask about this and you take them as seriously as they take themselves. believe me, they all take themselves seriously and you have done your homework and you're fair minded and neutral, they are going to engage. when i have done these books on bush and obama, i send in -- i hate to disclose straight craft here, 20-page memos, this is what i want to ask about. people say you're tipping them off. i say yes, i want them to do some homework themselves.
i want them to be fully engaged, and i think you can do that with lots of work. but if it's -- we like to come in and chat about the news of the day, we'll get -- chris: it's to wild, it's too crazy. your thoughts on the media -- >> i think there's a difference here between candidates granting interviews to mainstream media and candidates granting interviews to any media. you're talking about a crop of candidates on 2010 that were largely on their message because of social networking. and it didn't serve them well. sharon engle sent records -- chris: she went viral. >> and christine o'donnell, didn't serve her well heerge. same thing with sarah palin. if you're not talking to the media, someone else is talking turning points for you. chris: you might do athleter with something you said at a meeting that you haven't thought through. people love what you say no
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chris: welcome back. we're doing something a little different today. let me ask you this, panelists, all make the same prediction about the media landscape ten years from now. right now television and the online media depend on the three major newspapers, "the washington post," "the new york times" and "the wall street journal" as our main news source. bob woodward, ten years from now, will that be true? >> i think we all have to prove
ourselves still and again -- chris: quality newspapers. >> and, look, let's face it, the distrust of the mainstream news media, is off the charts. much more particularly not on the seaboards of our country. but you go into the heartland in the distrust you can box it up and package it. so people in the business have to say, ok, we're going to prove ourselves again. i think we can. chris: you start your morning, you think you will ten years from now, with the big pape sners >> start with a coffee and one place you depind that in "the new york times." in reality, those papers matter. they're standard bearers. there's a lot of noise in the online sphere. some of more outlets will be trusted in ten years but fundamentally people need a filter. they need a trusted news source. chris: not just a source but filter. >> yeah. >> you didn't call me in here to predict my own demise, did you?
chris: i think you might have a good answer. "the new york times" have the power to begin your gay as they have now? "the new york times" does begin your day. >> absolutely. but there will be other sources of information as well. i think online publications will be out there. chris: break the big stories? >> yeah, they are already. chris: john heilemann? >> no. one of those three won't exist ten years from now. you think about one, at least one, possibly more. if you think about -- chris: that's what they have been saying about the television networks for ten years, by the way. >> look what's happening to the networks over the last 30 years. if you look at the way the landscape is transforming the last 30 years, that pace is accelerating. ten years from now, some of those guys will exist. about the on the outside they're building up the reporting core and doing their own work. they will be carrying increasingly large shoulder -- chris: i think the big anchors and papers are less poignanted than they have been in a long time whfment we come back, barack obama, mr. cool, calm and
chris: welcome back. our big question this week, president obama's very cool and collected, of course. that personal reserve so well recognized be a plus or minus in next year's election, bob woodward? >> he's going to need it, and i think it's part of his trademark now. and then if there's a crisis or a political conflict, he can turn on the heat in an emotional way and really get people's attention. but if you're always hot and, you know, the stove is already on maximum, there's nowhere to go. chris: i'm working on that, bob. >> it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. he's patient and said himself, i persevere. when i want something, i wait for it. that says it all. chris: cool and collected. >> i hate when we say the same thing.
cool and collected works for him. chris: not too chilly. >> he has the game he can turn up when he wants. chris: what do you think? >> this show specializes in the poll's choice. i say votes. it's positive and negative for him. and he often changes depending what the circumstances are. if the economy is in a double dip recession and barack obama's cool, calm and collected, there's a big problem. chris: thank you, arlen specter. that's been a great round table. bob woodward, alex wagner, helene cooper, bob heilemann, just kidding. see you back next week. we spend a lot of time together. well mainly in traffic. i'm serious. we've been together, what, a super long time. true. and at first it was all business, you know, i'd take him here, i'd take him there. everywhere. and over the years, we've really bonded. sure. why else would you always buy me chevron with techron? 'cause we need gas. i think it's more than that. i think that you care about me.
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